Hayden Haddock, our Swag Spotlight this week doesn’t have the traditional story that most current country artists boast about, growing up singing in a church or knowing from a young age that this is what he wanted to do with his life. In fact, it wasn’t until the last 5 years or so that Haddock even had an inkling that this was something he could do for a living. He recalls watching Eric Church open for Kenny Chesney when he was fourteen years old, and between the Cheif’s incredible stage presence, his fancy guitars and fireworks display it sparked something in the Texas native. “He was just a really good entertainer, something about watching him, I went home and told my parents I wanted to take guitar lessons,” he explains. Growing up, he was shy and although learning to play guitar came rather easy for him, Haddock had never planned on even playing in front of anyone, let alone up on stage for fans.
Currently, he is a full-time student at Texas A&M in College Station and is studying Construction Science, however, bored one day in his dorm room he started picking on his guitar and singing and as soon as his roommate and a girl who lived next door heard him play, they loved it and after a lot of convincing, he overcame his shyness and started to play gigs and write music just a month later. “I’m really glad that it all turned out the way that it did, if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be doing all of this,” Haddock says. That fateful day in his dorm room was just a year and a half ago and already the singer-songwriter had connected with people in the music industry in Nashville and recorded and released his debut EP, First Rodeo. He worked with Trent Willmon, who produced Cody Johnson’s last four albums and he tells us how big of an inspiration Johnson is to him professionally and personally.
“Nashville is so concentrated with people trying to make a name for themselves, so it’s hard to do it since there are so many people there,” Haddock says. “You can be the best singer in the world but it’s going to take longer to get it done, so for me, Texas is a great place to start.” Willmon gave Haddock insight on Johnson’s career path, building his fan base and honing his craft in Texas in order to have something to negotiate with when and if you want to pursue a record label in Nashville.
His debut album features songs that were written by not only Haddock but people who live in his town and found out that he was looking for music to cut for his first project. Quite the whirlwind, only 6 months had passed between sitting in his dorm room picking on a guitar to getting into the studio and writing and recording the first seven songs that the world would hear.
Finishing up his degree at Texas A&M, Haddock is taking classes during the week then Thursday night jumps in his van and plays gigs all weekend. He is already working on writing and recording his next project which he says he hopes will be out before the end of the year. Listen to First Rodeo below.
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